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Mayor Parker Proclaims Children AIDS Day

Houston (FEB 12) Houston Mayor Annise Parker will proclaim February 12, 2010 as Children’s AIDS Day in the City of Houston, announced Rod Castle, CEO and Co-founder of The Osito Foundation.

The proclamation honors the United Healthcare Children’s AIDS Day. The day-long event, presented by Lockton, Inc., will be held at Rice University on Friday, Feb. 12.

In addition to the proclamation, Parker will make a presentation on the “State of The City of Houston; Regarding HIV/AIDS & Houston’s Role as a Worldwide Healthcare Leader” at 2 p.m. Additional elected officials who are supporting the Children’s AIDS Day include Gov. Rick Perry, his wife Anita Perry, as well as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn and Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee.

The conference is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Rice University campus in Hamman Hall located at 6100 Main Street, Entrance 21 off Rice Blvd. The event will be emceed by local PBS television host Ernie Manouse and will include a display of participating exhibitors in the halls adjacent to the main conference venue.

The inaugural conference will launch the Children’s AIDS Network (C.A.N), a comprehensive children’s HIV/AIDS resource organization that disseminates current information to professionals providing care for impacted children and their families. In addition, attendees will receive the first issue of the Children’s AIDS Network Magazine.

“We are thrilled to have the support of our elected officials and excited about the momentous occasion to increase the awareness and education surrounding the impact of HIV/AIDS on families and children,” said Castle.

Additional conference speakers will include AIDS Foundation Houston CEO Kelly McCann; and Director of International Adoption at Texas Children’s Health Center Heidi Schwarzwald, MD. In addition, there will be nationally and internationally recognized experts in the fields of medicine, psychology, law social services, government, entertainment, activism issues. The speakers will share relevant commentary on industry related topics and trends.

Children’s AIDS Day is open to the public and the organization is requesting a minimum $10 tax deductible donation or a new teddy bear for The Osito Foundation as admission.

The title sponsor for Children’s AIDS Day is United Healthcare. Lockton, Inc. is the presenting sponsor. Additional sponsors include Texas Children’s Hospital, AIDS Foundation Houston, Cade Michals Entertainment Group, Harris County Hospital District Foundation, Katine & Nechman L.L.P., Legacy Community Health Services, PBS, RE/MAX CityView, Rene Gonzales Online, and The Padgett Group.

For information on sponsorship, contact: Rod Castle, The Osito Foundation, Children’s AIDS Network, at 281-795-5210.For more information on The Osito Foundation and Children’s AIDS Day, please visit http://www.childrensaidsday.org

Firsts

Firsts Travis Crockett

They gave me a navy folder with
a packet of information twenty pages thick,
the first page titled “Day One.”
But there wasn’t a first day. A first month perhaps,
a memory salad of molding dread and sharp panic.

There was the first cut,
in public of course,
my hands fumbling a sharp piece of junk in a Good Will.
The high school clerk did not
appreciate my urgency for a Band-Aid
while blood—horror movie red
ballooned—from the tiny wound.
I bought the trash and took it home.
My first trophy.
There was the first education,
a confiding one-sided script.
People will say anything
in safe company.
He had put his
“health at risk, you know?”.
Truth shared under the assumption of a common status.
That was the first silence as well.
I was still learning how to speak; I could not yet teach.

There was the first rejection, but that only deserves one line.

There was the first doctors appointment.
The first blood draw.
The first results.
The first time they took my blood pressure
they had to take it again,
and again,
telling me I had to calm down,
that this was not
the first time someone had been in my position.
That was the first time I heard white coat syndrome.

Your new obsession becomes the first of many.
A refreshed interest in books,
things you said you would learn some other day,
or perhaps movies, foreign films,
you devour them, amass so many of these titles
you must buy a new book shelf,
you start looking at new TVs with better resolution,
you find a new couch to better hold you in these
delicate moments of escape.

I bought plants.
I bought so many,
willed my thumb turn from black to green,
surrounded myself with as much life as
I could fit on my south-facing patio.
To see the humble arc of beginning,
flourishing beautiful middle, and
graceful, lingering end, was my first recovery.
The next year I only bought five.

The first plant I bought lived
all through summer and into fall.
I buried it in wet November mud
next to a creek and
did not think of myself.


TravisCrockett-300x300 FirstsTRAVIS CROCKETT considers poetry to be a fourth alternative to Albert Camus’ options for dealing with the absurdity of life. Instead of willful denial through religion, suicide, or a total embrace of absurdity, poetry permits his desire for something greaterthan himself, acknowledges the terrors of being alive, and shakes hands with l’absurde. Travis considers poetry to be a way to wink back when the abyss get awkward and stares too long. He lives in Texas with his boyfriend and his dog.

No Strings Attached

Grindr Tinder no strings attached gay sex dating

Are Grindr and Tinder ruining good sex and preventing gay men from meaningful relationships? 

Online dating has transformed romance into yet another product of the digital age in which we live. Just like ordering a pizza or looking for shoes to match the season, people can now find a customizable lover through online dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble. These quick taps on our phone screens have created a new etiquette in dating where the individual connection has been replaced with a single swipe to the right and a nonchalant “what’s up” sort of intro. With instant connections on the rise, it seems as though the lengths of traditional relationships have shortened, as well. With many people bypassing the work of a relationship, they’ve now sped straight into an expedited sexual connection. This creates different types of connections that occur within this new era of social media speed-dating, whether people are out looking for Mr. Right, Mr. Free Booze, or Mr. Right Now. The latter has become the most common, due to our newly-adopted, quick, digital attention span. Hook-up culture has made it possible for people who are only exclusively looking for no strings attached sex to enjoy sexual satisfaction without the connection of another human being’s emotional attachment. As the idea of monogamy dies away, this placeholder has become a common trend. Soon, will everyone be left single? Is it possible that these unemotional and pure lustful relations could be deteriorating the traditional relationship titles of boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend?

Grindr is one of the largest hook-up apps. Most of these hookups are strictly “no strings attached.” User’s profiles can be straight to the point, announcing that they are looking for a right now rendezvous. Terms like hosting, travel, DDF, blow-n-go, and many others have generated a brand new language in gay dating. It breeds an aberrance not before experienced in dating: people giving out their addresses, sending genital photos, and looking for gratification without attachment. Instant connections are something that our current generation of gay men use as a means of courting. Yet, no matter how much of a connection there may be through our cell phones or online, is it as good as meeting someone new in person? With marriage equality being only a few years old, the definitions of gay relationships are just being reconstructed as society is now accepting them, especially as we enter a renaissance of relationship titles and gender roles.

Furthering this hindrance in our community is the unveiling of racism in online dating. Pride parades give the illusion that gay culture is open and inclusive. Yet profiles on Grindr show a population of those who maintain prejudices and subdued racism. Profiles which identify as discreet want to make a connection, but would rather nobody know of their orientation. Chappy, which fancies itself the “anti-Grindr,” introduces profiles that are combative of prejudicial taglines: masc only, no fats, no femmes, no [insert various racial prejudices]—which has the least to do with human connection—and rather allows users to only seek sex. Is this our old-world, subliminal heteronormative thinking? Are we still existing under the subconscious belief that homosexuality shouldn’t be placed on display in a heterosexual world? There are many reasons men want to remain discreet while looking for sex, such as the thrill of anonymity, being married or in the closet, or perhaps coming from a culture where homosexuality is still looked down upon. Perhaps being gay still is still not completely normalized, and these individuals do not feel comfortable showing their sexuality as a relationship to society. It extends beyond aps, though. Some married gay couples still remain in the closet. As much as being gay no longer seems to be a big deal, Main Street USA would still be uncomfortable with two guys holding hands or showing affection in the public, as has been made clear by the uprising in disapproving opinions during the current presidential administration. Gay stigmatization still exists, even in the dawning of 2018.

This type of atmosphere is inducing a population of men who are seeking male sexual attractions, but removing it from the forefront of a greater portrait, keeping everything out of society and into the bedroom. The down-low Casanovas typically are looking for someone who is masculine and doesn’t fit the stereotype of gay identification. But there are many people who find these kinds of interactions to be a fantasywanting to meet an individual for anonymous sex where  identity plays no importance, often even when one of the individuals is found in a scandalous situation like being blindfolded, handcuffed, face-down on the bed without ever looking up, etc. Conversely, it would seem that the act of no strings attached encounters provides an easy way to bypass societal stigmatization while being able to fulfill sexual gratification. But there are many people who find these kinds of interactions to be a fantasywanting to meet an individual for anonymous sex where  identity plays no importance, often even when one of the individuals is found in a scandalous situation like being blindfolded, handcuffed, face-down on the bed without ever looking up, etc. When a person has multiple partners without an emotional attachment, most bypass safety screening and are open to believe a person’s status for only knowing them within minutes, jaded by their own lustful desire. This alone begets sexual irresponsibility, especially when people fail to disclose their status with disease, drug use, and preventative drug use (i.e. PrEP).

Yet, unprotected sex is on the rise. And with that, these factors make such preventions even more necessary.  Taking the precaution allows a person to feel safe, even when taken without the availability of a condom., Still, PrEP is only used to deter HIV, and leaves gay men open for other diseases. Other health risks are involved with attachment-free sex. For instance, online dating now serves as a digital bathhouse, connecting men who are only looking for no strings attached sex. Like bathhouses online hookup apps help users who are seeking anonymous sex with more than one person to frequent, perhaps to fulfill some form of fantasy. These environments are often free of supervision or provide little only for the purposes of preventing drug use. Therefore, they serve as a breeding ground to spread virus and disease for individuals who do not use protection. Which the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein has noted “Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily.”

Hopefully, as society continues to wrap its hivemind around the acceptance of gay culture, the need for discretion and unsafe practices will dwindle. Maybe some day people will even be able to express their sexual orientation without the stigmas that come along with being gay, eradicating the need to hide your face behind your phone screen. Still, bathhouses, hook-up apps, bar meet-cutes are often seen as gay rites of passage. While clinically discourageable if not practiced erring on the side of caution, many gay men look at them as a part of the lifestyle, something their friends have all done that they wish to experience, or even just a good story to tell. After all, apps like Grindr have also made it increasingly easy for people to meet for sex. It’s the intention of the app, with many men just have chest pics as their profile picture, whether that be to remain anonymous or simply to attract sexual partners. And yet, while there are people who claim they are looking for a relationship on these apps, for the most part, it would appear that most are only looking for sextheir Mr. Right Now rather than their Mr. Right.

Editor’s Note: World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day 2017

A note on World AIDS Day from About editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez.

Hi, everyone. I hope you’ve all had a lovely week and are wrapping up your Fridays differently than I am – by not working.

As most of you who are in the LGBTQIA community know, today is World AIDS Day, a day specifically targeted at remembering those who have lost their lives to the HIV/AIDS virus, as well as to spreading education about the importance of safe sex, prevention, and living with HIV/AIDS.

I want to start by saying that there is nothing shameful about living with HIV/AIDS. I, myself, am HIV-negative, so there are a lot of aspect to HIV/AIDS that I cannot speak to. But as a person who is very sexually active and who has been with multiple gay male partners in his life, it’s extremely important to me that I am tested regularly, and that I take the precautions necessary to prevent myself from contracting HIV. And I believe it is equally important that we all get tested frequently. We have to so that we can live longer and healthier lives with those we love.

But back to my previous point: having HIV/AIDS is not a shameful thing. It’s not something that a person does to themselves. It is not a reflection of the kind of person someone is. It is not a scarlet letter they should have to wear for everyone to see. HIV/AIDS is an illness, and one that takes lives every single day. It does not, however, define a person who is living with it, nor should it affect the way that others look at them. It should not serve as an excuse for anyone to pass judgment on them. Again, it’s an illness that affects far too many people because preventative medications and healthcare are expensive, and because the LGBTQIA community does not have proper and comprehensive sex education throughout almost all of the United States of America.

The real trouble here is, nothing is 100% effective. You can utilize expensive condoms and take PrEP as prescribed, but you are never going to be 100% protected from transmission. That said, science has brought the LGBTQIA community very far in terms of prevention. True, PrEP provides a 92-99% reduction rate in your risk of transmitting HIV, but 1-8% of potential transmission is still a potential for transmission. That’s why being tested is (again) so very important. While I cannot – nor would I ever try to – speak for an HIV-positive person or try to expound upon their experiences, I can say that it is not a virus that anyone would want. For decades, our community has battled HIV – back to when it was still referred to as GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency disease) – before even that. In that same span of time, innumerable people have lost their lives to this disease.

However, science is constantly looking for ways to make us safer, because HIV/AIDS is not a virus of perverse sex or to just being gay. It’s a virus that limits our ability to love freely and live long, healthy lives. HIV/AIDS has long been used against the queer community by the conservative side of politics as a tactic to restrict the rights of queer people. And in many ways, that has served a hindrance to scientists who work their entire careers trying to find a cure for it. But no one is giving up.

We’re lucky that the number of queer people who are living with HIV/AIDS has diminished. Lucky, because no one deserves to live with something so nightmarish. Still, it is possible to live a long, happy, and relatively healthy life with HIV/AIDS. It’s not always an end-all. In fact, more people are living now much longer lives than ever before with HIV and AIDS. And that’s really something, because it was nearly unheard of just thirty years ago.

So, with all that said, About Magazine did not publish any content related to World AIDS Day, as we have a number of articles for you that will be released starting tomorrow, Saturday, the 2nd of December. We aren’t putting a time parameter on when these articles will end, as we believe that HIV/AIDS should be normalized and discussed all throughout the year. However, given what we recognize today, the next week will serve more information than normal. These articles will talk about the importance of sexual education for queer youth in schools, preventative measures for HIV, resources for people living with HIV/AIDS, a history of World AIDS Day, lists of myths about HIV/AIDS and the people affected by it, some personal stories from those in the Houston LGBTQIA community that are living with this virus, and much more.

It’s our earnest hope here at About that everyone will learn something from these pieces, and take this information to share it with the people you love and in your life. If you have questions you don’t know a credible answer to, hopefully we can help provide it, or at least point you in the right direction. Our goal here at About is always to make sure that this community lives well, happy, and healthy lives. So, please take the time to read some of the information if you’re unsure of anything about HIV/AIDS. And always feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or if there’s something you think we should touch on. You can reach us at info@about-online.com.

For anyone reading this, please know that you are important, that you are special, that you are beautiful, and that you are loved, regardless of your HIV status or anything else you may feel defines you. Because nothing defines you other than what’s in your heart and how you treat others around you.

Choose kindness.

Choose community.

Choose love.

 

Anthony Ramirez
Editor-in-Chief